Faculty Spotlight: Mary Jean Corbett

photo of Mary Jean Corbett

  • distinguished professor of English and affiliate of Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
  • recipient of the 2014 Distinguished Scholar Award
  • teaches all levels of English
  • research interests include 19th century British literature
  • enjoys reading, Sudoku, and watching baseball


"I have been at Miami for 25 years, but before coming here I did my undergraduate work at Smith College, which is a women's college in Massachusetts. I went directly from there to get my PhD in English at Stanford in California.

"I have always been a big reader. Ever since I was a child I liked to read because I like to go places that I have never been to before. I specialize in 19th century British literature in particular because the books are really long and you can really get lost in them."


"I teach at all levels of the curriculum from first-year writing to graduate seminars.

"What I enjoy most about teaching is that I really like young people. I really like the age group of 18-22 because I think it keeps me young, which is important! I also like teaching most when students participate with me in formulating ideas. I do not find teaching that exciting if I am just telling the students things—when we are working things out together, I find that the most interesting."


"I have written three books already. One was based on my dissertation, on 19th and early 20th century women's autobiographies. Then I wrote a book on the English-Irish literary relationship in the 19th century. My third book was on women's fiction and how it represents questions of marriage, sex, and sexuality in the 19th and early 20th century.

"I am currently writing my fourth book on Virginia Woolf, the 20th century novelist, and the context of her 19th century background."

Outside the Classroom

"I am one of those people that in another context would be called a lifelong learner. Every time I do a new project, plan a new class, or even teach a class I have already taught, I'm committed to trying to learn and know more. I like to do things that take me into different areas within literary studies and also within women and gender studies. It's really the possibility of learning new things that keeps me committed in not only my professional life but my personal life as well.

"In my spare time I have also become a very dedicated Sudoku player, and I've gotten much better at it since I started. I'm also very much a conversationalist and a big baseball fan, though I enjoy all sports as well."

[July 2014]